Posts filed under ‘men of substance’
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A yellowing, crumbling to the touch, page of a newspaper from May 1894 took me on a journey once more into the lives of my neighbors of the 1800’s. This small neighborhood, poised to become the 10th largest city in the state, full of promise , steel and manufacturing. One of her ‘great names”,( George Wickens) tinged with scandal was found in the words of that newspaper cutting from another neighbor, after she passed- whose family had been part of the birthing of a city. http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/generally-gillmore-the-last-post-lorain-part-12/
Mayor George Wickens, had been pilloried in the press, small paragraphs recounting his troubles in various news print around the state. But what of Mida Pershing. “no spring chicken” according to George at the ripe old age of 26- earning a living through secretarial work, and then “unceremoniously imposed upon” by her boss, George. George Wickens, a pillar and strength of a fledgling city!
I have to think Mida must have been courageous, principled or very naïve to have taken on Mr. Wicken’s behavior in the public eye. Women of her time just didn’t cross that threshold and make of themselves the subject of gossip, but Mida did. I uncovered some small facts about Mida-
Mida was born in 1868 one of 7 children to George Washington Pershing and Catherine Cline.
Just a note here there are some discrepancies in the two “search for ancestors sites” as to her date of death. I will go with the date on the headstone North Murray Ridge Cemetery , Elyria 1947
making her 79. She married Ray A Eldred (1876 – 1958) in October of 1901. Roy was 8 years her junior. Mida went on to have 5 children apparently – two dying early on
Helen ELDRED b: 15 AUG 1903 Children Nettie K. ELDRED Ralph A. ELDRED b: 5 AUG Walter P. ELDRED Ruth V. ELDRED
You see George Wickens settled the case against him in 1895-
Just what the terms were of that settlement I haven’t been able to find on-line but one would assume the terms were satisfactory to Mida at the time .
Note:If anyone has more information on the case I would love to update the posts.
George was once again asked to resign :
PDF File of the complaint:
Jan 7 1896
George was adamant there was no such wrongdoing with the books for the cemetery account ( see above PDF file)
1896 The Lorain County Reporter
January 11, 1896
- The committee from the Lorain council appointed to investigate the books of Mayor Wickens, reported a shortage of over $250. The committee stated that the result was probably caused by bad book keeping. The mayor made a speech in which he stated that he was a victim of a conspiracy to ruin him. The council by a vote of eight to two requested him to resign his office, which he has thus refused to do. A strong undercurrent of public feeling has been aroused, and many do not hesitate to state that Mayor Wickens is being unmercifully persecuted by his enemies.
George, however, did not give up on Lorain as his full obituary found here on Dan Brady’s site : http://danielebrady.blogspot.com/2012/06/meet-george-wickens-part-1.html
From 1872 for approximately 10 years he was a “contractor”
While engaged in the carpentry business in Lorain, Mr. Wickens built many of the older houses now located on the east side and was the contractor that built the old lighthouse which now stands at the end of the west pier of the river
Lorain’s fist big dig maybe??
NOTE Contacting the Engineering Dept. they have found mention of
” # Y-45 created sometime between 1915-1919, but determined lost in 1923″ but that too would have been AFTER George had died in 1908- The question then becomes IS THERE ANOTHER TUNNEL UNDER THE BLACK RIVER SOMEWHERE?????
From George’s obituary we learn :
He was mayor of the city when the plant of the National Tube company came to Lorain and had in his possession at the time of his death the first piece of steel ever turned out by the plant. In ’97 Mr. Wickens was elected as a member of the council from the second ward and later was a member of the boards of cemetery trustees and water works trustees. He was elected a member of the first board of public service in 1903. At the last municipal election he was again elected to the office of member of the board of public service by a large majority. He was also a member of the board of library trustees.
The trustees of the public library issued a special resolution that was part of that same article. It stated, “Resolved that in the death of Mr. Wickens this Association has lost one of its most useful members. Identified with the earliest efforts to establish a free public library in Lorain, Mr. Wickens gave his time and thought most generously to promote the cause. He was never called upon to assist in the work that he did not promptly respond, often at great inconvenience and sometimes actual loss to himself.
“It should therefore be known to all the people of Lorain that the Public Library as it now stands is in a sense a monument to the public spirit and noble character of George Wickens.”
The Board of Trustees are J.W. Jones, E.M. Pierce, Mrs. J.H. Hills, Mrs. McIlvaine, W.C. Fisher, George Wickens, E.E. Hopkins, and F.A. Rowley.
And so we come full circle back to the History( makers) of Lorain of which he was such an integral part. His story “hopefully” preserved by the Lorain Historical Society who now occupy that self-same Library- The Carnegie Library- I wonder if among the artifacts there is another yellowing piece of paper telling more of his story……………
Again many thanks to Dan Brady, Frank Sipkovsky, Paula Shorf for their research and information……..
Part One http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/mayor-george-wickens-buried-on-the-back-pages-lorain/
Part Five http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/mayor-george-wickens-changing-times-lorain/
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Evening Herald 1894
“When in the Mayors office she says he spoke a few words more about embalming and asked her if he should show her his person. She said no and he then asked her to kiss him. She says she sprang to one side of the table. He followed her , caught hold of her and kissed her on the ear. She says she then turned and confronted him and he said something which she does not remember and quickly left the room . He went to dinner and came back within 15 minutes and wanted her to say she thought he meant nothing wrong.
Oh George! had he been breathing in too much embalming fluid vapors, had his ardor cooled like a corpse on the table after leaving the room, perhaps realizing the seriousness of his behavior? In 1894 Lorain such behavior was indeed not accepted in polite society, especially in the puritanical Midwestern US who were desperately clinging to civilization among plank sidewalks, mud filled streets . Women were at a decided disadvantage it would take another 25 years for Mida to even get the right to vote – Democrat or Republican .
Now George was not the only “Republican Mayor” to be held up to the public for whispering naughty naughties to a “city employee” although the more squeamish newspaper ( Plain Dealer) of the 21st century day did not print in detail the intimate conversations of Mayor Craig Foltin and the “sex tapes”( 2003)
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Aug. 6, 2003:
The lurid details of a taped conversation that appears to be between Mayor Craig Foltin and a police dispatcher became public yesterday.
Two weeks ago, an anonymous person sent the six-minute tape to City Council President Kenneth Shawver. The tape includes several instances of sexual banteringThe phone rings and the mayor says, “Hey.””You have a great . . .,” a woman says.”Who is this?” the mayor jokes.
The two laugh as they discuss details from a recent night.Foltin also speaks about attending a retirement party, and a meeting with state, county and city officials on improvements to Colorado Avenue and going to court to acquire property from residents.
And a few paragraphs later:
After listening to the tape with a reporter, Foltin said the conversation was from 11/2 years ago, though he never conceded that it was his voice.
Listening to a portion of the tape, Foltin said, “I don’t remember any of those conversations.” After the entire tape was played, he said: “I think it’s tough to tell. I can’t tell if it’s me. What do you think?”
Foltin would not say whether he had dated a police dispatcher. “Right now, I am settled down and engaged to a lovely girl,” he said, declining to identify her. His fiancée does not work for the city, he said.
We at OH-13 are unsure of what the bigger laugh is: is it that he was enjoying a sexual phone conversation with an on-duty police dispatcher, he was too stupid to realize that the POLICE TAPE ALL THE CALLS, or that when presented with the calls, he knew when they were made, but was unsure if he was the one on them? Was he just listening in to calls between a police dispatcher and someone who sounded remarkably like him? Enquiring minds and political junkies want to know, even if Mayor Foltin isn’t sure about the whole deal.
Times don’t seemed to have changed much ( he said, she said , the media said) but to continue with George and Mida:
She [Mida] said she was sick the next day, not having , not having slept any during the night , and told Mr. Wickens she wanted to go back to Mr. Lampman’s
Note: Mr. Lampman was a successful merchant and proprietor of a general merchandize store.He is mentioned in the warrant of May 1894 —(“Did Manford ( meaning Mr Lampman) ever talk like this to you?- Adultery is no sin- God won’t condemn the act; there are other virtues;”)
He [Wickens] said he did not want her to go and asked why she was going . She told him and remained until after he returned from Dayton. She says when she settled up with him she swore at him and told her he had made her hate the Bible . She says he asked her three times to forgive him and she refused.
George really does have himself in hot water and another warrant was issued for assault.
When the officer went to serve the warrants on the Mayor he was found in the office of the store. He seemed much agitated and said he would like a copy to the instrument left with him. The officer refused to leave the affidavit and the Mayor said he would consult his attorney. He has retained E.G Johnson, Q. A Gillmore and C.G Washburn.
George was indicted by the Grand Jury and Lorain *( the village of) was bitterly divided. From the Plain Dealer ( yes! the same newspaper that covered the other Republican Mayor Foltin and the “sex tapes”-in 2003- 108 years later….
In 1895 ( and bringing truth to the reasoning of the writers at the Evening Herald 1894:
Now several months must elapse with the people of Lorain all the time in doubt as to whether their Mayor is a libertine and a wretch of the most loathsome character or a man worthy of respect and esteem.
The village of Lorain “named in 1874″
by the head of the Democratic Party”
NOTE: Once again many thanks to Dan Brady http://danielebrady.blogspot.com/ for his help
To be continued……….
Oh dear! Poor George when we left him last had not learned his lesson it seems. I can’t find much about Mida Pershing and will share what has been found at the end of this series. But George on the 26th of May 1894 continued on his conversation with Mida- would that he hadn’t.
But let us look at the man, what he built, and that which survives him . Part of the legacy he leaves today including the name that still rings through the centuries Wickens, Herzer, Cook and Baptista
Note: George Wickens had various business apart from being the Mayor of Lorain – he had a furniture store , he was the owner and director of a funeral home and you can find the pdf of his story and his business below. Thanks to Paula Shorf( one of the authors of Lorain: The Real Postcards of Willis Leiter) http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/9781467111331/Lorain-The-Real-Photo-Postcards-of-Willis-Leiter for the information:
234.The Wickens Company
George arrived in Lorain in 1873 and this is what met his eye
The caption from the Wickens’ Booklet reads
” North Broadway is seen from the east side of the river- practically the whole town is shown. There is no bridge, the old plank bridge having been washed out by the freshet. Steve Moore’s ferry is carrying a horse and rider across. William Jones’ old shipyard on North Broadway is seem filled of lumber and here, in the picture, H.D. Root has just launched the steamer “Charles Hecock”
George started his first “shop” store on West Erie in the Bowen Hall in 1882
George with his three children and then onto Broadway – a building that modern day Lorainites will be sure to recognize
then and now
George also had other properties
In his business life Mr. Wickens has been most successful and in the last twenty-five years has built up one of the most extensive furniture businesses in this section of the state. In 1900 he erected the three story business block on Broadway now occupied by the Boston Store. In the spring of 1899 a branch store was opened on Tenth avenue. In 1904 the five-story building in which the business in now located was erected, the store opening for business on December 13, ’95. The Parkside Chapel, identified with the undertaking business of Wickens and Ransom, was erected in 1903.”
http://danielebrady.blogspot.com/2012/06/meet-george-wickens-part-1.html His funeral home – Parkside Chapel
Regular readers please note: in the above narrative from the History of the Western Reserve Part three – what is now known as Veterans’ Park , the little park from whence this community was platted in 1834 WAS at ONE time also known as GIL(L)MORE PARK http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/generally-gillmore-the-last-post-lorain-part-12/ So we can add that to its series of names http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/veterans-memorial-park-fini/
The Parkside Chapel was next door to his residence, which ironically, segued into the building we know today as Walter Frey Funeral Home – sitting next to the Lorain City Hall.
But back to George and Mida- George had added to his many talents by graduating from the Clark School of Embalming in 1888- ( Note embalming became popular in the Civil War http://www.civilwarundertaker.net/history.htm
Dr. Richard Burr, an embalming surgeon, is performing the embalming process on a soldier recovered from the battlefield. During the early years of the American Civil War, a new profession began to emerge.
It was Georges discussion with Mida and the sharing of his texts ( in the old-fashioned sense of the word) that was his the beginning of his public disgrace.
Evening Herald 1894
On May 26th 1894 she said he showed her , when they were alone, a book on embalming, showing her a picture of a nude man. She said he told her something about how to keep from having children . This was down in the office and he asked her to follow him up into the Mayor’s office and she did so praying the Lord to give her strength……….
To Be continued
My personal day of infamy- December 3rd- has come round again- How can that be? You see the day I lost you, my son, was just yesterday – last night and the pillow was still wet with tears cried in an exhausted sleep as I woke this morning to the rattle of the garbage truck.
There have been so many millions of words , hundreds of thousands of books written about grief and especially the loss of a son or daughter.
Looking for answers, looking for some verification you aren’t alone in your world of agony, you search the words of others. This loss that is so different for me than any other of the losses I have lived through. You wonder……
am I going insane?
Am I alone in this insanity? Do other mothers experience the kaleidoscope of the “being” that I have become- fragmented disjointed only coming to together briefly in a pattern of who I was once for just a brief turn of the day, week, month, year.. When am I supposed to be “healed? People tell me it will get better with time?” Can that be true???? Is there hope the agony will not continue in such terrible strength as to block out any happiness
Sometimes you recognize bits of you in their writings, breathe a sigh of relief when you realize you aren’t alone or insane, abnormal and that maybe you too may be to get better at wearing the mantle of mania that is named “grief”.
Maybe, you may one day have rest without exhaustion and peace ….oh peace…… if only for a few hours, a healing respite from the world where you now tread. Maybe you may be able to function without planning how to manage every day tasks whilst struggling with this crippling grief . You look to see where others are on this journey forced upon you. You hope there is some hope……….
Maybe as time passed it became easier, a hope …. that maybe depending how many months years you are “out from the death” or “into the grief” you will heal have some semblance of acceptance , of peace.
I remember reading, just after Chris died, the words of a mother whose daughter died of Hodgkins two months before Chris. She was my “gauge ” I would follow her thoughts as she wrote of her turmoil. You see I didn’t know how I would live through the next day, how I could endure the loss of you Chris?
I cleaned all the closets , threw away the non essentials getting ready for my own death in the first days after you died. I didn’t want those whom I would leave to have to deal with my earthly baggage. I felt sure I could not endure this gutting ache , this pain beyond description that crushed me , crippled me for too many days or weeks. Surely my heart would give out, my lungs that fight to breathe between the gasping breaths mingle with choking tears would stop fighting for air.
My brain on fire with questions of why and at the same time dealing with the wickedness of selfishness, thoughtlessness and control
also visited upon us added to the flames . I was sure my very brain would burn out leaving no room for the every day tasks it sent my physical being.
And yet this morning I am still here but don’t ask how? I am better at dealing with the losing of you in public, when needs must . Techniques have been learned . These months and months of torture have taught the body how to endure and survive the hours. The brain has developed an automatic function , to quickly intercede and push down the memory or trigger moment but, that is all it can do. It functions to temporarily hold the Tsunami of grief at bay only for the wave to draw back gather strength and flood your being once more when you are out of the public eye or having to function in the world where time did not stop.
When you died Chris, I died, the Loraine that was is no longer. I look for you in every black Ford 150 that travels on the road. I wake in the morning still hoping this was just one horrendous nightmare. Time stopped , I stopped The me that I am now was born that December day the 3rd – born in grief and lost in sorrow. There is no I in Rest and Peace……
Yes! there is a turkey in the oven this morning – Queen Anne potatoes and roasted veggies getting prepared to take the journey to Nikki’s. There will be smiles and little boys getting into mischief
Family will gather and some of us will push away the memories of the last Thanksgiving Day when we “were a family complete” in order to make happy memories for children and realtives.
The tears will be held in check as best as able with a helping hand from those loved beyond all tears- they are my life support . I know I am not alone on this day , there are other mothers and fathers , sisters and brothers who are being brave this day and remembering and missing silently with controlled breathing -
Thanksgiving Day I sat all alone in a waiting room, hustled out of the ICU room as my son, with tears slowly filling his eyes dropping silently on his cheek, was being prepared for the vent as he had started choking on the sip of water I had given him.
I heard the last words he ever spoke that Thanksgiving Day. I waited in the ICU waiting room as Code Blue was called , the technicians coming out high fiving as they had completed the procedure in record time – celebrating their own kind of “touchdown”. Did they not realize they broke my heart…. and then a young doctor coming out to me asking if I wanted Clergy as my son was dying. That was our last Thanksgiving Chris. There was no one there in that waiting room- I was alone, totally in another world , reality crashing forth into my brain my heart not accepting….,
my mind whirling with wanting to stop time , to find a way to wake from an nightmare.
The Cretans of Control ( Lombardi and co)
showing up later with their nut rolls and recipe swap – I couldn’t grasp what was happening , who were these people invading my terror with their leftovers? –
The missing is monumental…. it is taking all I have to keep breathing.
So I am thankful this year for my own special life support, Nikki, Jim, my husband, Nana my wonderful friends, cousins and especially those two little boys Gavin and Braedyn, who make me smile when I struggle to breathe .
According to the “History of the First Methodist Church” Geo Wickens – History of The First Methodist Church 1856-1956, lorain
he had fiery red hair, long red moustache, bushy brows and an infectious grin indicated that things had to move fast when he took charge……..
George Wickens became Mayor when he was 42 -April 1894 and was immediately caught up in scandal.
“The Mayor’s Trouble” Within the past 24 hours a matter involving the good name of the Mayor of Lorain has arisen which the public will learn of with feelings of the keenest regret and deepest humiliation” Evening Herald June 1894
Charges against Mayor Wickens ” were the most serious that could be made” causing him in fact due to the charges against the Mayor caused him to have to withdraw from the church and the Rev. J.F. Smith has informed him [Wickens] that his services as Superintendent of the Methodist Sunday School will be no longer permitted
Whatever did George do- murder?? rape? incest? blackmail to be “thus pilloried without a trial”. The newspaper Evening Herald calling for him to be disgraced and his behavior disgusting or is this the politics of the day a Republican and Democrat go around in 1894.
Now George Wickens admits to being indiscreet but that the woman in question [Mida Pershing] magnified the “troubles” “the so-called scandalous story”
It seems, according to the report of the day, George Wickens hired a Miss Mida Pershing as a bookeeper for his business.[Wickens and Wilkins]- she stated that her duties were to take of the books and the Mayor’s docket.
Within a few weeks Mida resigned her position. and what followed according to the Evening Herald –
it soon became whispered about there was a scandalous story to tell. It was related at first to a very few confidential friends, but soon spread , as was to be expected, like fire to an oil refinery……..
…..”interest in the scandalous story of the alleged improper conduct of Mayor Wickens toward Miss Mida Pershing, his bookkeeper, grows rather than diminishes with each succeeding day. Monday am at about 10 o’clock Mayor Wickens was formally charged under arrest on the charges od using obscene language in the presence of a female and of committing an assault.
When you read the full report by the Evening Herald , the article tries to set the tone of unbiased reporting, talking of letting the people make up their own minds whilst gleefully latching on and using the inflammatory language of the time to “sway public opinion whilst seeming “reporting the news even with the lead in
“The Evening Herald refers to the subject with the greatest reluctance but it seems best to state the facts and allow the people to form their own conclusions”
Ah seems history continues to repeat itself…………
To Be Continued………..
When I wrote about “Veterans Park” and its over 200-year-old history as the first public square of the little settlement on the Black River and the birthplace of what became Lorain, I touched upon an Englishman- George Wickens . George Wickens , Lorain businessman, a man held in high esteem and the namesake of Wickens’ Place the little lane that runs parallel to what is now Veterans Park.
In that post you will find links to a series on George Wickens by Dan Brady of Brady’s Bunch of Lorain County Nostalgia http://danielebrady.blogspot.com/search?q=Wickens. The obituarys in the newspaper reports of the time extolls the leadership, the abilities and much-loved regard for this native son of England who made Lorain his home.
Mr. Wickens, whose death(19th March 1908) came as a great shock, was one of Lorain’s most highly respected and prominent men and his demise is mourned by all. In his death the city loses a man who took a great interest in all things pertaining to the welfare of the city and her citizens and whose place Lorain will be unable to fill.
His funeral was almost one of “state” for that time.
and the fact like Captain Thomas Wilford
and myself, we were transplants from England who ended up here on the shores of Lake Erie. Coupled with the fact, although generations apart, we trod the same streets, saw the same homes ( well most of them) in this Lorain’s oldest neighborhood.
Yes! George was by all accounts beloved, admired and a shining example to his community. So it came as a bit of a shock when looking through the artifacts from Peggy Gillmore
I found a crumbling yellow newspaper article- The Evening Herald June 16th 1894. Titled:
DOUBT IN THE MINDS OF THE PEOPLE OF LORAIN AS TO THE CHARACTER OF THEIR MAYOR. the almost full page article continued to list the “shame and the accusations”
I was fascinated by the article as to the thinking and what was acceptable at the time and a few quotes from George that made me chuckle and remember the English aren’t exactly without a sense of humour. I believe this “case of a woman’s accusation” and indeed one other accusation where he was publicly vilified in the press- having experienced that myself on occasion ;) needed to be explored further. ( Republicans and Democrats having at it in 1894 )
My problem was trying to find the outcome of the cases pending against George. Thanks to Paula Shorf and with special appreciation to Dan Brady it has taken many weeks but I am able to say George came out of both his reputation intact, although his regard for others substantially damaged ( as well as the politics of the day). But as always with these things just a paragraph buried in the back told the rest of the tale. So before giving “airing” to his supposed actions I will quote George from the article itself
Note George Wickens became Mayor of Lorain in April 1894 , just two months prior to the scandal!
” A statement from the Mayor”
Lorain, O., June 16th 1894
To The Evening Herald
Inasmuch as you have printed certain rumours affecting my character as a man and as a citizen, I ask the privilege of saying to the public through your columns, that, while I am not informed as to the specifications of such charges, I deny generally and specifically each and every one of them, reflecting in the least degree upon my character as a citizen, and honour as a man, and ask the public to withhold judgement until the truth shall be known.
Yours Respectfully Geo. Wickens
My respect for George has risen two-fold – one he had the courage to take on the media of this town – maybe that is also an English trait ;)
Title: The Evening herald. : (Lorain, Ohio) 1894-1901 Place of publication:Lorain, OhioGeographic coverage:Lorain, Lorain, Ohio | View more titles from this: City County, State
Publisher:Frederick A. RowleyDates of publication:1894-1901Description:Vol. 1, no. 1 (May 22, 1894)-v. 7, no. 287 (May 4, 1901).
Frequency:Daily (except Sun.) Language:English
Editors: Rowley & I.H. Griswold, 1895-1899.
LCCN:sn 84028328OCLC:10922716 Succeeding Titles:The Lorain times-herald. (Lorain, Ohio) 1901-1932
and then the Lorain Times became the Lorain Journal and The Journal and then the Morning Journal..
Oh! for goodness sakes looks like over a hundred year later George and I fought for the same park, the same neighborhood and took on the same “newspaper” – How is that for history repeating itself- “an Englishman cometh indeed!
Two – He also it seems had similar penchant for run on sentences ( guilty as charged!)
To Be Continued ……